Whenever I am afraid…

 

Fear-NotFear stalks the earth these days!  A couple with guns blazed into a conference room and the report of those shots echoed across America. “Terror” is threatened daily. Then, there are those things that make us quake that are much more personal.  Whatever illusions about life I had at another time, they are gone as I know too well that cancer comes, that viruses reduce us to fevered sleep, that ‘accidents’ come crashing into our lives. In spite of the best precautions, life can go upside down in a moment.  That is why I have come to treasure two words that appear many times in the Scripture – “Fear not!”

To be completely honest, this passage from Isaiah is equally assuring and unsettling for me at this time. The Lord tells me that He loves me and keeps me, and I believe that. Yet, the circumstances in which I live argue that He does not.  “This is what the LORD says—Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; …  you are precious and honored in my sight … I love you.” (Isaiah 43:1-4, NIV)

“Fear not” is a command, not a suggestion. Living fearlessly demands a choice on my part, so how can obey and overcome the terrors?

Let’s look at the story of Jesus’ birth for some cues. In that story the phrase, “Fear not!” is recorded on three separate occasions when persons encountered the messengers of the Lord.

Mary, when she was told that she would be the mother of Jesus, was not elated.  Luke says that she was “confused and disturbed,” by God’s will. But, the angel assured her that God’s favor would rest on her and then he said, “Fear not!”

Joseph found out that his fiancé was pregnant and knew he was not the father. He was torn between his desire to love her and his honor. He had decided to quietly end the engagement when the Lord showed up and told him “fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 1:20, KJV)  Isn’t it amazing?   God told him, “just trust Me!”   And, he did!

Zechariah was doing his priestly work when a messenger of the Lord told him that he was about to become a Daddy. So, what’s the big deal with that? Elizabeth, his wife, had been unable to conceive and was beyond child-bearing years! This priest “was troubled and fear fell on him.”  (Luke 1.12)   And what did God say?   You’ve figured it out by now, right?  Yes, you’re right – “Fear not!”

    Mary did not know how it was going to work out, what God’s announcement would mean for her life, but she trusted God anyway.  

    Joseph did not have any explanation for a virgin’s pregnancy, but he was willing to step over his lack of understanding and do what God wanted him to do as he trusted the Sovereign Lord.  

    Zechariah took a while to come around, but he gained a deeper knowledge of the Person of the God he served, and came to trust Him completely.  

If we desire to live without fear, we must trust Him with all things!

It is our choice to argue for fuller explanations, to demand that He make His plans crystal clear or to choose to live faithfully, just for today.

My life is in His hands.  Either I trust Him or I do not; there is no middle ground.  He is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all. I no claim that I understand the San Bernardino terror or Bev’s cancer, but the Lord asks me to trust Him, to secure my life in Him.  Even I write this, I know that some abuse the whole notion of “God’s will” and “faith.”  Many Christians live willfully, choosing their own path, and expecting God to bless them anyway. They have scarcely a care to know Him, to seek Him, to submit to Him.  As casually as they might order a hamburger, they toss off demands of the Almighty!  They justify their own choices claiming they are doing “God’s will.”  And, when they did themselves into a deep hole, they blame Him for their fears.

God reminds us that “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” (Isaiah 55:8 NIV)  We are incapable of knowing all of His purposes without submission, true love, and consistent devotion.  But, if we live each day as a ‘living sacrifice,’ (that means laying down our Self for Him)  we will learn to walk in God’s will,  “which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)  And, near to His heart, fear is erased by perfect love!

Here is His promise to those who trust and obey:  “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8, NIV)   “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6, NIV)

_________________

Joy to the world! the Lord is come;

Let earth receive her King.

Let every heart prepare Him room,

And heav’n and nature sing,

And heav’n and nature sing,

And heav’n and heav’n and nature sing.

 

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

Nor thorns infest the ground;

He comes to make His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found,

Far as the curse is found,

Far as, far as, the curse is found.

 

He rules the world with truth and grace

And makes the nations prove.

The glories of His righteousness

And wonders of His love,

And wonders of His love,

And wonders, and wonders of His love.

 

Joy To The World

Watts, Isaac / Handel, George Frederick

© Public Domain

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s